Land in the pre-dawn darkness, giddy beyond reason and incredulous that am really, truly in France. After navigating endless airport tunnels finally emerge to see friendly face waiting for me.
Quick route or scenic route home? he asks. The scenic route, bien sûr!
Nose pressed against car window, looking up, up, up -- almost can't breathe when iconic ash-gray rooftops loom into view.
First stop: le Marais; brisk walk in chill morning air, and then warmth of expertly prepared cafe crème at L'Etoile Cafe (so named for stars in floor tile-work).
Back into traffic, to charming apt. will come to call home for duration of stay, hot shower, first cup of Mariage Freres tea, and am ready to face freshly gleaming first day in city.
Initial plans to visit Monet exhibit are quickly scrapped when informed that queue is six hours long, and instead opt for gloriously unspecific wandering.
(A defined destination is not really necessary in Paris, as any direction your feet take you will lead to something interesting, if not staggeringly beautiful.)
Quickly discover rumors of Paris' reputation as most romantic city to be well-founded.
Culinary expectations are also soon met; when ordering cafe's most basic sandwich am reduced to exclamations over perfection of bread and elegance in design of simple paper plate.
Our feet are lead hither and yon: up and down the Seine, to Napoleon's tomb...
(where even warfare is an artform)
...and on to Notre Dame and the Louvre.
Crossing river, am met with demonstration. Unclear what is being protested, but apparently color red holds deep significance (madam below has even dyed her hair for the cause).
modern museum that appears to have ingeniously installed all its plumbing on outside of building. Fall half-asleep in cup of tea while simultaneously engaged in deep conversation and avid people-watching.
Blissful with knowledge that there is still a whole week more to explore and savour. Sun sets in purple and orange, and lights begin to glow.